Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back to Reality...

I’m kind of in shock. I find myself here at the beginning of 2012 wondering what in the world happened and where in the world did 2011 go? Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year have come and gone with what seems like the speed of light but I kind of feel that way about the whole of 2011 also. Time off from the regular schedule and routine has been a nice break. Having the kids out of school and a chance to sleep in and catch up on some much needed rest has been great. Going to parties or special events has been nice but the regular schedule and routine are slamming us all back to reality. The alarm clock for the high school kids sounds much too early and the pace of life is at freeway speed once again. So much of I wanted to accomplish in 2011 did not happen but that’s okay because I always have more work to do than I’ll ever get to in my lifetime (or at least what I think needs to happen).

By the time you get this article, I will have shared what I call “The State of the Church” message. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past year and the work the Lord has done through us. It’s been a good year for Calvary over all and we celebrate what God has done. As a leader however, I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Philippian Church as the Holy Spirit inspired him to write: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:13-14).” How many New Year messages have come from that text down through the ages?

Paul was a goal setting visionary leader who did not want to dwell in the proverbial “good ole days.” Paul was looking forward to the new adventure that awaited him in his walk with Christ. That’s the way we Christians are called to live; with eyes for the future and what the Lord would have us to do. I encourage you to set some goals for this New Year, prayerfully asking the Lord to help you with this in all areas of life. Ask the Lord to help you choose your priorities carefully and in a way that would be pleasing to Him realizing your life is not your own but it belongs to God. What I love about Paul’s writing here in Philippians is the encouragement that even if you blow it, you can put it behind you and press on.

An amazing Biblical principle and truth is that by God’s grace, we can always start fresh with God, not just at the start of a New Year, but literally at the end of every day and if we’re willing to, we can start fresh with God the second we blow it and the Holy Spirit convicts of us sin if we’ll repent immediately and ask for forgiveness. I think one critical mark of a Spirit filled Christian is one who takes responsibility for and repents immediately of sin in their life upon conviction. They don’t gloss over it, attempt to rationalize or justify it, they don’t blame-shift, and their response is like David’s when convicted of sin. “I have sinned against the Lord…(2nd Sam.12:13)”.

I think one worthwhile goal every Christian ought to set is to resolve to repent the moment the Holy Spirit knocks on your hearts door and says “Hey pal, you blew it there.” The response should be: “You’re right Lord. I’m so sorry for that sin, would you please forgive me?” By doing so your relationship with Christ can be restored instantly and the repentant believer can have fellowship with Christ restored.

As we begin 2012 together as a church family, I believe the Lord has great plans for us this year. I believe we can make a huge difference for God’s kingdom if we resolve to put the Lord first in everything. Your Ministerial Staff will be making some plans and developing some strategies for this year at the end of January for two days of prayer and dreaming with God about what He wants us to do. We’ll be challenging our church leaders to examine their purpose for existence as a ministry and how that purpose fits into the overall vision and mission of our church. Where change is needed, we need to be flexible and willing to change. In areas and with processes that work well, we need to continue to be faithful but we need to be able to learn how to apply principles from that successful ministry into other areas. I’m excited to have an almost complete compliment of ministerial staff and office staff. But we cannot do what God is asking of us as a church without the dedicated service and ministries of our members. Will it be hard at times? It will be excruciatingly hard at times when personal life and church life vie for the precious commodity of time. I love the attitude of one of our men as I had lunch with him the other day. The gist of what he said was “I have resolved that whenever God asks me to do something, I’m going to say yes no matter how much I already have on my plate.” I was so encouraged by his tremendous attitude that his life belongs to the Lord and whatever God wants is what he plans to do with his time, effort, energy and resources. That attitude first is a God honoring attitude but it is contagious and exciting and I want our church family to approach 2012 with that same attitude because eternity is at stake for millions of people around this world.

Let’s press on together, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let’s let that be our reality here at Calvary. Looking forward to 2012, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church 

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